Men and Women: Professional Gender Roles

It is evident that the roles of men and women have changed drastically in the last century and although they have progressed and changed it is also evident that they are far from being equal. Even though we still have gender roles, it is clear that the ideas, meanings and values placed on these roles have changed, even though men’s and women’s roles have overlapped in certain aspects, the roles have been modified to be acceptable for the others gender. Not only have the roles changed for women, but they have also changed for men. In understanding the theory that the meanings and values attached to these roles have changed it is important to recognize the examples made in this essay, such as the concept of men working in highly female dominated occupations, women given opportunities of crime, both male and female participation in domestic duties and the ongoing debate of women in combat.

The theory that the gender roles change when they are placed on the opposite sex is relevant when it comes to men and women in non-traditional occupations. Richard Tewksbury analyses the idea that men in women’s occupations change the original role, when it comes to the occupation of males in the female dominated occupation of strippers Richard explains that as society traditionally positions men as sexual aggressors and objectifiers rather than the sexually objectified, as appose tofemale strippers who are frequently judged on there attractiveness and seductiveness. Men who work as strippers represent a potential challenge to this social norm. Richard also explains that the role of stripping is transformed when men are the ones who are being sexually objectified, his research suggests that although male strippers occupy roles previously relegated to females, the roles have been reconstructed to emphasise the traditionally masculine ideas of success, admiration, and respect.

Male stripping integrates traditional elements of masculinity with the female-dominated occupational role, which enables men to maintain patriarchal privileges not available to female strippers. In effect, men exercise powers of eminent domain annexing and improving what was once the exclusive domain of women. Through interaction, individual construction and reconstructed meanings, creating their own social context, when social action is seen as actively managed and constructed, the process as whereby men appropriate and assimilate female roles while perpetuating definitions of masculinity is made clear. So this idea that the role then changes when a male enters the occupation of a highly female dominated role, is clearly proof that the roles are not equal because the fact that the opposite gender can change the meaning and value of the occupation goes to prove that it is impossible for the role to be equal.

In the additional case study I have chosen the article “more work for women and more inequality too: ILO”. In this article the research shows that the concept of equal wages for equal work is unfeasible at this point in time. Even those professions which are highly female dominated; men are achieving a 10% increase on their salary, purely because they are male. This is also modifying the gender roles in the workplace. Not only have women increased their participation in education and training but they have also taken a more active role in the labour force, almost double the amount 20 years ago, from 46% to 72%.

The increase in women’s participation in employment has been strongly associated with an increase in part-time work, with women accounting for the majority of part-time workers (72% in 2005). Although most of the workers in part-time employment prefer part-time work to full-time work, 4.3% (90,100) of female part-time workers and 8.5% (68,400) of male part-time workers wanted to work full-time and were available, and actively looking for full-time work in August 2005. This article justifies the theory that whilst women are becoming increasingly apparent in the workforce they are still facing economic inequality.

“Another issue of significant concern was that of the figures released on the 11th July 1997 by the Australian Bureau of Statistics which revealed that the number of women in full-time employment dropped by a staggering 23 000 in June, due largely to the $34 weekly rebate for single income families as part of the Family TaxInitiative which was introduced on the 1st January, and which may be increased in the near future. At the time these figures were announced, the Prime Minister told Sydney radio he endorses a “home-maker’s allowance” designed to persuade over 200, 000 parents, mainly married women, to leave the workforce. He further stated that the previous government had encouraged “families to be two-income families”, whereas his plan was aimed at “going in the other direction”. Numerous groups have expressed anger at Mr. Howard’s comments and policy direction, believing it could have serious impacts on the position of women in the labour force, and indeed in society as a whole.”

This article represents that it is not only society who determines these roles but it is also the government who places the behavior attached to the role. Clearly Mr. Howard is in agreement with the ideologies of the past and would like to govern society into believing that women should not work. This emphasises the fact that as societies change, so do the roles, but this does not necessarily mean that the roles advance, and in some cases can decline.

It is not only in the workplace that the gender roles have changed, when it comes to crime and offences, which were once predominantly male dominated, women have also changed their attitudes towards crime and offences, and over time have taken on aspects of the male role in crime. Elissa P. Benedek explains the theoretical and conceptual perspectives of female criminality, in an attempt to explain women’s involvement in criminal behaviour she focuses on four main topics; biology, psychology, social roles and socio-economics. Benedek explains that during the era when women were given more freedom, this freedom led to opportunities of crime and unfeminine forms of crime such as violence, she then goes on to explain that as the social and economical disparity between females and males decrease, female criminality would increase. Adler reflected that:

Women are no longer indentured to the kitchens, baby carriages, or bedrooms… Allowed their freedom for the first time… by the tens of thousands – have chosen to desert those kitchens and plunge exuberantly into the formerly all-male quarters of the working world… in the family that women are demanding equal opportunity in fields of legitimate endeavour, a similar number of determined women are forcing their way into the world of major crime.”

This statement outlines the idea that as women were given more social freedom to find work and get closer to the idea of gender equality that they were also given the opportunity to commit crimes and offences, as there roles have changed so have there opportunities, and the values and meanings placed on these roles and behaviours.

While it’s clear that women have come a long way from the idealised 1950’s version of housewives, it is also evident that men and women have modified the gender roles regarding domestic duties. In the article “Women still do majority of housework: report” It states that between 1992 and 2006, the average time men spent on household work rose from 1 hour and 25 minutes to 18 hours and 20 minutes a week. This therefore shows that the roles of domestic duties are changing, not only are men increasing there ability to clean but they are also doing more of the cooking than in the past.

It is clear that these roles are overlapping and are affecting each other, women are entering the workforce and as a result men are finding that they should perform domestic duties. Now the roles have been modified to fit in with society’s advancements it is evident that although men’s and women’s roles are not equal, it is safe to say that they are not so far apart.

Some authors, including both pro- and antifeminists, hold that experience in combat is the sine qua non of gender equality. Pro-feminists argue that only combat service can entitle women to the most significant social rewards. Whilst anti-feminists argue that letting women engage in combat will seriously weaken a nation’s military force. It is evident that bonds men establish in combat create a masculine mystique that excludes women. It is also evident that men’s ability to defend their group is rewarded by the highest honours and in the past exclusion from combat has limited women’s access to education, job training, and preferences in state and federal employment, retirement benefits, medical care, low cost insurance, bonuses and loans.

Combat is widely associated with men, masculinity, power, strength and dominance it is evident that in society the role of women in combat is arguable throughout the world; the absence of women in combat is seen by some as a form of sexual discrimination. This ongoing debate is fuelled by alleged issues on the physical and mental differences of the two sexes and the effects by the presence of the opposite sex on the battlefield. Many anti-feminists believe that factors such as physicality, psychology, tactics and radiation disable women from being able to work in combat. Although this is an ongoing debate between pro and anti-feminists it is evident that there is a stigma attached to females in combat.

The theory of the roles changing when the opposite gender enters the filed; that is females in the roles of combat, changes the value and meaning of the role, no longer is the role strong, masculine and powerful, but it is feminine, weak and powerless, and therefore justifies the fact that the roles are not equal.

Evidently the roles of men and women have changed, but only to a certain extent, if they had completely changed to being one hundred percent equal the examples made above would not be an issue because men and women would be equal. The fact that men entering a role within a female-dominated occupation can change the role purely because they are men and can associate this role with symbols not attached to the same role for women proves that the roles have not changed but the value and meaning behind these roles and genders have actually changed. The idea that as women are given the right to work, they are also given the opportunity to commit crime, a previously male dominated act, proves that the roles are changing.

As it is clear in the examples made above men and women are different, the roles are still different and far from equal, but in saying that it is also important to note that these roles have changed and as our society has grown these social norms which establish these roles, have and continue to change. The meanings which we once placed on these roles have changed and as both genders take on aspects of the others it is clear that one day, eventually we will find equality amongst men and women, it is just a matter of time.

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